Taking the line 1 in Paris is not a shame but just an insane will to live with tourists. Thanks to the Louvre museum, the Champs Elysées Avenue and Le Marais area. But out of “on the outskirts”, life can become an adventure, that’s what Parisian people said. But not far from Nation, the suburbs are truly royal. Maybe because of the majestic castle of Vincennes. But in which country were we?
The star and striped flag on the city council seems to have relocated the town of Val de Marne in the Hamptons. The question remains unsold while walking thought the American village of Festival America and catching some English sentences such as “what’s next?”, “how about a coffee?” and “where is he ?”, here and there. And HE is Richard Ford. The mythical author was one of the favourite guests of Festival America of literature.
Strange feeling to adore American authors in the country where literature is a religion and writers, gods. This edition paid tribute to ghosts. Dead authors were bright stars of this edition. An occasion to face the idea that American writers are still fascinating for French authors. Richard Ford was the central interlocutor of a debate about a monument of literature: Raymond Carver. Rodolphe Barry, Olivier Cohen, Philippe Djian and Stéphane Michaka were hanging on his every word of the American author. The French writers didn’t hesitate to share their passion for Carver, “one of the masters of writing who could give the feeling of life in English of French.” But they kept arguing about the role of Gordon Lish in Carver’s career. Richard Ford stopped the struggle as a referee testifying that “his friend was pissed off to die but hated any work”.
Around the wise Margaret Atwood, the funny Dany Laferrière or the new writer Ivy Pochoda signing the original version of her books, Herménégilde Chiason had some revelation about Kerouac in his fiction documentary, the great Jack. In this invitation to the childish Road, the Canadian director revealed the learning of English at school of the mythical author, his wish of becoming a perfect American and a high fascination for Rimbaud.
But the biggest obsession about American authors awards: Frederic Beigbeder.
The media party writer (he founded the Caca club, a posh association for Science Po students, right politician Jean-François Copé took part in it) tries to become an academic (with A French Novel rewarded by the Renaudot Price) like his idols. In his personal Pantheon, Hemingway or Fitzgerald have good places but nothing compares to J.D. Salinger. The Catcher in the Rye remains the favourite book of this permanent teenager. The fan even followed the footsteps of his idol in the documentary Catching Salinger made by the music documentarist Jean-Marie Perrier.
He ended up doing so maybe because he failed at reaching his idol as he strove to knock on his secret door in New Hampshire, he gave life back to him in his new book: Oona & Salinger. A vintage book about parties in New York with Truman Capote and Orson Welles, golden age of Hollywood but also war with Hemingway (who said in the book the foreshowed sentence “after the war, people will stop reading French writers, everybody will only read American authors”) and also seduction for Oona O’Neil who even charmed David Bowie.
Writing about the love story of the daughter of Nobel Price/Beauty Queen with the upcoming writer, he had to face Joyce Maynard, scandalous disappointed young lover of the author who confessed his heartache in At Home In the World. The shock between the writers of non-fictional books could be electrical but, in the eyes and the words of the French writer, the admiration was so obvious.
Small talk in French and English like a stand-up:
Joyce Maynard: “J’adore parler français, excusez moi! How old are you?”
Frederic Beigbeder: “49”
Joyce Maynard: “Oh, you’re too young! He left me giving me 50$ and asked me to come back home, ‘what could I do?’, ‘I was 18’. I felt so protected by this great man… I came back to his home, I was 43. He had changed a lot, he was such a failure, a shame for me, I felt betrayed like your president with Valerie. He just told me a sentence that I will never forget : “The problem with you is that you love the world.”
Frederic Beigbeder: “I didn’t have an affair with Salinger, he didn’t even reply back to my letters but I have the feeling that he was crazy about you, and you got rid of all the other lovers, even Oona.”
Joyce Maynard: “Do you have a daughter? What would you think if he acted the same with her? I don’t judge him – Salinger was not a villain. It’s just a question of responsibility. Before writing my memoirs, I met fifty women who received love letters from Salinger, like me. He used his power to seduce them.”
Frederic Beigbeder: “What can i say? I was so disappointed not to have reached him at his door. What did I expect? Like all his fans, I just want to ask him : are you happy, Mr Salinger? Plus, I also wanted to know I was a good writer. It was a curiosity issue too. You were fascinated by another writer obsessed with teenagers : Françoise Sagan.”
Joyce Maynard: Yes, she wrote such an inspiring novel, she is more important than Salinger. But in France, you have another book about a relationship between a powerful man and a young girl: The Lover by Marguerite Duras.”
Frédéric Beigbeder: “She was powerful too. It’s not a chance if a wishing author falls in love with the daughter of the greatest writer.”
Joyce Maynard: “He was very ambitious, he wanted to be famous.”
Frederic Beigbeder: “When he was young, he was absolutely unknown but had a great imagination. That’s why he felt so humiliated when Oona left him for Chaplin, the most famous men in the world. It was very hurtful.”
Joyce Maynard: “Oona was the first, Salinger hated Chaplin so much. I think that imaginary loves are still more important than real ones.”
Frederic Beigbeder: “The subject of my book and of their relationship is how parallel life can be more beautiful than real life. Maybe it’s Oona’s fault if Salinger made you suffer…”
Joyce Maynard: “No”
Frederic Beigbeder: “I’m really fond of Salinger, I think that I love him more than you did.”
Let’s hang out together !